April 28, 2020

Let’s face it, we’re all trying to survive this semester with the transition from in-person classes to completely online. When exactly is that essay due again? Should I be watching yet another episode of “Avatar: The Last Airbender,” or should I be working on a discussion? Without the physical space of the classroom, it’s easy to be stressed about feeling like you should be stressed about something. 

     Prior to going back to school, I worked at a tech company where I created our remote working policy—a plan each employee would have to implement before they were approved to work from home, ensuring that they would be more effective at home than at work. 

     We live in crazy times, and for some reason, an essay during quarantine is a lot harder to write than an essay in our previously normal lives. Might have something to do with depression from the lack of seeing people. Might just be me. But regardless of our circumstances or mental health, I figured I’d give any amount of advice I can during this crazy time from my research at my tech company. Hopefully, it’ll make you more effective and keep you a bit saner. 

  1. Compartmentalize your life. Have a space where you work and a place where you relax or sleep. Your brain starts to recognize patterns. If you work in the same place you sleep, your brain isn’t sure which one you’re doing. You end up being lazy during work and restless during sleep.  
  2. Get dressed as if you’re going to school or work. This goes back to tricking your brain. When you get dressed and put on pants, your productivity goes up, and the reason for this is because the patterns that acted as “signs” to your body that you’re about to work are now being used again to activate your body. 
  3. Get yourself a calendar. I’m a visual person, and the simple rhythm of going to class helped me remember simple things like books and readings and my sanity. As soon as quarantine happened, I bought a massive, dry erase monthly calendar so that every time I wake up, I’m able to immediately stress about what needs to happen that day.  
  4. Use Slack, Zoom and Teams or other programs for social connection. Yes, it’s for productivity. But it also helps keep you stable. When I left my last job, the joke was how many times I talked about food cravings via Slack. It was over 150 times by the time I left. It was funny, and it gave people a good laugh. Remember, we are all still human, and don’t be so quick to quit during feelings of rage. I will have you know that my team all left after I left (insert fingernails and hair flip emojis). 
  5. Take breaks. I was the most effective producer at my work, but I also took the most breaks. There’s this corny phrase about two men chopping down a tree, and the one that was more productive took more breaks to sharpen his axe. Go sharpen your axe and go outside. Move. Get out of your room. Do something! Go sharpen your metaphorical axe! 

     At the end of the day, I’m under no illusion that you’re actually “remote working.” We’re all just trying to make it to May. But maybe some of these tips will make this whole semester more bearable. You got this. We’re so close.